The Life Doctor

LIFE WOULD be a lot more pleasant if we didn't have to live it in such chronological order. It's so unkind. You start off with all that flexibility, elasticity, energy, brain speed and voracious metabolism and just when you start to realise how good it was, it disappears into the halcyon mist that was your youth.

Do I sound gloomy? Maybe it is because I have reached one of the pointers on life's ageing map: the late twenties crisis. An ageing pointer is that moment when, after years of looking blithely in the mirror, you catch a sudden objective glimpse of yourself and notice change. The first such age shock often happens at 23, when the mirror says, "God, I'm not 18 any more." As you get older the mirror asserts itself more and more often.

The next marker is late twenties angst, when physical changes are compounded by a sense of worry about what hasn't happened in your life. "I'm nearly 30 and I am no more sorted out than I was at 22," says Ruth, 29. "I think I would be more stoic if I weren't single. But I noticed my first cellulite three months ago, something I prided myself on not having."

The challenge is to look better than your contemporaries. Ruth should actually feel pleased that cellulite left her alone for that long. Most of us have some cellulite by 25. It is very useful to know what's normal in the ageing process. You might just find you have been over-critical of yourself.

1) Wrinkles

Surgeon Maurizio Viel who, with his twin brother, Roberto, owns the London Centre for Aesthetic Surgery in Harley Street, says fine lines start appearing from 25. "At this stage they can be covered by good make-up. By 29 the fat on your face is beginning to redistribute." Don't con yourself that your cheek bones are more pronounced - everything is beginning to slump downwards.

Some doctors say a wrinkled skin isn't inevitable genetically until our sixties. Environmental factors are more important before that. Sun damage causes up to 90 per cent of visible skin damage. And smoking speeds up the wrinkling process by up to ten years.

Abusing your skin won't show much in your twenties. But soon, says Viel, you can tell the water drinkers from the sun-soaking chain smokers. "By 35 there can be as much as 10 years' difference just from different lifestyles."

2) Fitness

30 is a milestone for athletic performance, when the body loses the edge of its speed. Fortunately, since most of us fail to reach our speed peak anyway, this loss passes unnoticed. Mid-thirties is a crucial time for cardio-vascular fitness. It starts in earnest now and will drop by up to 40 per cent by 65.

3) Grey Hair

34 is the average age that a white person starts developing grey hair. Black people typically start about ten years later. By 50, 50 per cent of people are 50 per cent grey. So if you're 40 and grey-free start feeling smug.

4) Mental Performance

"From the age of 35 short term memory is not as good as it was," says Ronald Klatz, President of the American Academy of Anti-Ageing Medicine in Chicago. "Our mental lists fail, we can't hold as many phone numbers in our heads." But surely after 35 the brain is better in other ways? "Not really," says Dr Klatz, "just more cunning at hiding its inefficiencies."

5) Weight

Metabolism reaches a peak in adolescence. To maintain weight, says Dr Klatz, eat 200 calories less each decade. But it is within the normal range to gain about five pounds with each decade after 20. By 40 there is a dilemma: skinny looks cooler, plumper can look nicer - and younger. "My mother always said women aged in one of two ways," says Meg, 43. "Prune or plum. I am going down the prune route. It means I can still wear fashionable clothes, but I look older than some of my fatter friends close-up, but younger further away."

Sadly, there is only space to cover the early ageing process today. In part two, we will examine muscle wastage, sexual decline, senility and death. Brace yourself.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

    £18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

    £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own